NYK 93 - OKC 90

Shots wouldn’t fall, but the Thunder didn’t make any real attempt to try for better ones as they fell to a weirdly effective Knicks.

  • I was at the game against the Pelicans, so I want to make this note: Roberson was fantastic. Such a major plus for this team. He is making his shots with a lot more confidence, and he is becoming effective on both ends. He’ll never be a world-beater on offense, but he’s getting much better.

  • Roberson made a comment postgame about how this defense has the bigs dropping back and puts more pressure on the guards. It’s been discussed before, but hearing it from Roberson just reminded me how much better the bigs are than the guards for the Thunder. Roberson is the only consistently good defender, with Westbrook and Waiters helping when they want to. With the front court rotation, Adams, Ibaka, Collison, and usually Durant can be counted on to give solid defensive minutes. Why would the defensive schemes focus on the effort and reliability of the guards, when that clearly is the defensive weakness of the team? It could possibly serve Monty Williams well to rethink what this team is capable of, and who is capable of it. Maybe his optimism will pay off. Hopefully.

  • Another note from the Pelicans game that carried over into this night. The jogging back down the court has to stop. Kanter and Waiters are frequently late getting back on offense (unless there’s a fastbreak opportunity). It slows down the pace uneccesarily, and when Waiters especially picks up his intensity simply by running back and being engaged you can see the obvious impact it has.

  • Singler can’t shoot. It’s not happening. He is however improving elsewhere. His fouling has decreased ever so slightly, and his activity keeps plays alive.

  • This season every good thing this team does has to have an asterisk next to it that says something along the lines of ‘when engaged’ or ‘on occasion’. The inconsistency has killed this team. It’s been the only consistent thing they have, other than Westbrook’s nightly box numbers. When the Thunder are executing well you can see what Donovan has brought tactically, and that potential is exciting. What’s very troubling, however, is that the effort just isn’t there. Brooks had his struggles, and he isn’t in OKC anymore because of them, but one (underrated) thing he brought to this team was motivation. They always fought, and it put them in the hunt in so many situations they had no business being in.

  • Ibaka is struggling. He seems lost and lacking all his confidence. He’s routinely getting great looks in the pick-and-roll with Westbrook, but even those shots he’s failing to hit. His robotic consistency that has served this team so well in years passed is missing.

  • Don’t be fooled by the low score of this game. It wasn’t because the Thunder were effective defensively, it was because so many possessions ran down the clock. Less possessions means less points.

Eyeball Test?

Unmotivated. Donovan can coach, but can he motivate? And how does a bench also consisting of Monty Williams and Mo Cheeks not have the ability to push this team? It’s early, but it’s starting to feel like something may be amiss with this team.

OKC 114 - MEM 122

Roberson was out with the flu, and accordingly the Memphis guards lit up the Thunder.

  • Memphis looked ready to go out of the gate, ripping the ball straight from Thunder players’ hands on two consecutive possessions.

  • No Roberson, which looked worse than some people would say it sounds. Singler had to start, and with his fouling tendencies was forced to sit early. The team was down two wing players, including their best wing defender, and new Grizzly Mario Chalmers along with Mike Conley made them pay. It seemed to start when Cameron Payne saw his first meaningful minutes, and was baited into several dumb fouls by Chalmers. Payne was recovering and contesting well, however, which bodes well for the future.

  • Chalmers continued to bulldoze his way to the line after Payne was moved onto Courtney Lee. Augustin didn’t make the same rookie mistakes, but physically he was completely outmatched against the bigger, stronger Chalmers.

  • The interior defense from the Thunder gave them a chance. Adams made Gasol work all game. Both were in foul trouble by the end, but Adams stood his ground the entire night. Ibaka looked better against Zach Randolph than he ever has in the past, as well. The only shots that came consistently for the Grizzlies’ bigs were long, midrange twos. The problem is those two have that range, but it severely limited their potential potency.

  • Similarly on the offensive end, nothing was coming easy on the interior. The Thunder’s guards continued to drive inside, which often resulted in getting stuffed and/or turning the ball over. The Thunder couldn’t hold on to the ball all night, with bobbled passes and just losing the ball on their own, and so very few good kickouts resulted in Thunder points.

  • The bigs also had their work cut out for them on the offensive boards. Adams was sent to the line multiple times (one of the reasons Gasol was in foul trouble), and he continued to look much improved at the line. If this continues to be a thing, Adams’ ability to shoot free throws could allow for some good late-game defensive lineups without the liability of having a poor foul shooter on the court.

  • Roberson was missed for his defense, but his replacement (Singler) couldn’t hit any wide open threes which made Roberson missed for his offense as well. When you’d rather see Roberson take a three-point shot, it means something is seriously wrong.

  • When Westbrook takes over, it’s fascinating to watch. It’s not ideal and it usually means he’s given up on his teammates, but it’s still enthralling to watch.

  • Who thought Chalmers was going to win a game for the Grizz?

  • The Thunder finally looked locked in for the final 3 minutes. Where was this intensity and focus for the first part of the fourth quarter, let alone the entire game? Westbrook was hitting anything he wanted, but the Grizzlies’ guards kept answering to keep them in the lead.

Eyeball Test?

Out of sync. They were missing two starters, but there’s enough talent on this team. It’s not an excuse for the issues the Thunder can’t seem to escape.

BOS 100 - OKC 85

A complete fourth quarter collapse spelled doom against a well coached, consistent Boston team.

  • Great defense to start. Morrow and Westbrook both working hard to get over screens, which isn’t necessarily the norm.

  • Terrible shot selection of long twos and quick threes led to easy offense for Boston. Westbrook was trying to shoot Boston out of the game, and seemed to lose control. Donovan sat him a few minutes earlier than he usually does, and it was a much needed break.

  • I could watch Kelly Olynyk try to guard Enes Kanter all night. Way too easy to score.

  • I like the look of Collison next to Kanter. His passing compliments Kanter’s post play, and his defense can help hide Kanter.

  • Westbrook reigned it in the 2nd quarter, but he’s still on the edge of being completely out of control.

  • Boston’s offense executes so well. The Thunder tried to make the game sloppier to break it down, which worked for a little while. They just haven’t asserted themselves in terms of size or pace all season, instead simply matching what the other team is trying to run.

  • Ibaka much more consistent. He was hitting his shots and was where he needed to be.

  • Roberson starting to shoot without hesitation. Making it at this point is a bonus, because what’s really huge is the improved confidence.

  • Brad Stevens has this team working so well for what they have talent-wise. They kept their cool all game to come back slowly but surely.

  • Westbrook against the world only works when Westbrook can shoot. When you’re 5-20 maybe it’s time to attempt to trust a teammate or two.

  • Complete offensive collapse beginning in the late 3rd quarter and continuing throughout the 4th. Just 11 points to close out a game is embarrassing. Kanter and Waiters didn’t bring the necessary spark to offset the missing contribution from Durant, and despite Ibaka’s great night, the same problems persisted with this team.

Eyeball Test?

Off. And short handed. It was hard against the 76ers to really get an idea of how much Durant would be missed, but the well-coached Celtics made it painfully obvious. This could be a great learning experience of where some big flaws exist, but the Thunder as a whole seem really off.

PHI 85 - OKC 102

A close game ended easily as the Sixers seemed to run out of gas, giving the Thunder a pass despite offensive struggles.

  • Morrow got the first start for a missing Durant. With how much Donovan is pushing Singler it was an interesting, albeit hopeful, choice.

  • With the start Morrow also got his rhythm back, making 4 consecutive shots after missing his first. Got to get him better looks when Durant comes back and Morrow goes back to the bench.

  • Adams putting in ridiculous effort to make Jahlil Okafor struggle. He was shut down all night, and you could tell it was a major focus for the Thunder. This season it hasn’t been opposing bigs that have given this team fits. Something to watch going forward is how the Thunder guards react to getting roasted on a nightly basis.

  • Okafor didn’t look as bad on defense as advertised, and meanwhile Nerlens Noel was tearing it up on offense. Kinda sad they will waste away in Philly, at least for a few years.

  • Singler seems to be improving game to game, ever so slightly. Not his shooting though, which is still terrible.

  • Collison is so good at being in exactly the right spot. He makes mistakes, but not nearly as many as most players. He’s getting older and less effective, but when it comes to stability he’s still very useful.

  • Westbrook with his 2nd triple double in a row. Here we go. Russell against the world.

  • D.J. Augustin had some great plays in the 4th quarter. He’s failed to live up to the impressive play the first few games of the season, but it’s good to see it come back at times.

  • The 76ers faded at the end of the game to relinquish what had been a fairly close game to the Thunder for an easy win.

Eyeball Test?

Lacking. It’s Philadelphia, so a win was almost guaranteed. The Thunder are going to have to bring a lot more to the table to keep up with more talented teams while Durant warms the bench in a suit.